Weekend Briefing No. 461
A Saturday morning briefing on innovation and society.
Welcome to the weekend.
It’s December. That means it’s time to crank up the Christmas tunes. It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Over the last few years, I’ve been refining The Ultimate Christmas Playlist. It’s 95 songs and runs over four hours. I hope it brings joy to you this holiday season.
Did your brilliant friend forward this to you?
450—China is building 450 gigawatts of solar and wind power generation in the Gobi desert. That’s six times the total power generation capacity of the UK.
37%—Thirty-seven percent of the world’s population (2.9 billion people) have never used the Internet.
29%—Data centers will consume 29% of Ireland’s electricity by 2028
In his very first season as coach, Bill Parcell’s team The New York Giants was hit with a rash of injuries. He worried incessantly about the impact of the injuries on the team’s fortunes, as it is difficult enough to win with your best players let alone a bunch of substitutes. When his friend and mentor Raiders owner Al Davis called Parcells to check in, Parcells relayed his injury issues. Parcell’s: “Al, I am just not sure how we can win without so many of our best players. What should I do?” Davis replied: “Bill, nobody cares, just coach your team.” That might be the best CEO advice ever. Because, you see, nobody cares. When things go wrong in your company, nobody cares. And they are right not to care. A great reason for failing won’t preserve one dollar for your investors, won’t save one employee’s job, or get you one new customer. It especially won’t make you feel one bit better when you shut down your company and declare bankruptcy. All the mental energy that you use to elaborate your misery would be far better used trying to find the one seemingly impossible way out of your current mess. It’s best to spend zero time on what you could have done and all of your time on what you might do. Because in the end, nobody cares, just run your company. a16z (3 minutes)
The Kids Are Alright
You’ll probably want to flip through this entire Gen Z field guide because it identifies and explores 12 different subcultures within the sectors of gaming, entertainment, fashion and beauty. One of my favorites is the Scientific Edutainers. Science is making a comeback. In fact, STEM fields are the number one career choice for Gen Z. So, they seek out scientific educational (and entertaining) content outside the classroom on TikTok and YouTube. The result is a self-directed education that combines “how stuff works” with unexpected and engaging surprises. Heyzine (20 minutes)
Microsoft Co-Founder’s Favorite Investment?
Paul Allen, the late Microsoft co-founder and billionaire, made many investments in his career. But one stood above the rest. It’s an asset class 99.99% of people couldn’t touch until now. So what is it? Blue-chip art, and it’s very hot right now. On the same day that the Dow fell over 600 points and BTC plunged to its lowest level since 2020, Allen’s art collection sold for a whopping $1.6 billion and smashed all auction records. The sale shows that leading financial investors believe in art. And not only ultra-rich dealmakers are celebrating. With Masterworks, the fintech powerhouse, anyone can invest in shares of rare art by names like Banksy and Picasso. All offerings are SEC-qualified, and their track record is impressive. Members benefited from +21%, +27%, and +32% net returns from past offerings. Want to see what’s available? Use my private referral link for access. Masterworks (Sponsored)
The method to slow down global warming was supposed to be the reduction of emissions of carbon dioxide and methane by replacing fossil fuels with clean energy. That is happening, but it’s not happening fast enough. Because of that, we may be forced to reckon with the idea of solar geoengineering—blocking from the Earth some of the sunlight that has always nurtured it. If we decide to solar geoengineer the Earth—to spray highly reflective particles of a material such as sulfur into the stratosphere in order to deflect sunlight and cool the planet—it will be the second most expensive project that humans have ever undertaken. (The first, obviously, is the ongoing emission of carbon and other heat-trapping gasses into the atmosphere.) The idea behind solar geoengineering is essentially to mimic what happens when volcanoes push particles into the atmosphere; a large eruption, such as that of Mt. Pinatubo, in the Philippines, in 1992, can measurably cool the world for a year or two. This scheme, not surprisingly, has few public advocates. New Yorker (18 minutes)
What are two events that took place at the same time in history but don’t seem like they would have? A few of my favorite answers are: 1) Two empires (Roman & Ottoman) spanned the entire gap from Jesus to Babe Ruth. 2) Nintendo was founded in 1888. Jack the Ripper was on the loose in 1888. 3) When pilgrims were landing on Plymouth Rock, you could already visit what is now Santa Fe, New Mexico to stay at a hotel, eat at a restaurant and buy Native American silver. Kottke (4 minutes)
Here’s a fun list of 52 things Tom Whitwell learned in 2022. Some of my favorites are: 1) Using ellipsis in writing signifies the writer is Gen X or Boomer, and can read as confusing, passive-aggressive or even weirdly flirtatious to digital natives. 2) In 1739, there were three times more coffee shops per person in London than there are today. 3) During a French Navy exercise, a frigate was (virtually) destroyed despite radio silence. The (virtual) enemy was able to roughly locate the ship via an active Snapchat account from one of the sailors. Magnetic Notes (6 minutes)
Don’t Optimize Downtime
One bad habit of being a productivity nerd is trying to optimize every moment for usefulness. Ten minutes into enjoying some music or sitting on the balcony doing nothing and we start thinking: “Should I be reading a book or coming up with blog post ideas instead of doing this?” But remember, no matter what hustle culture says, you don't need to milk productivity out of every moment. Be okay with slowing down and not doing anything productive during your downtime. Enjoy a warm bath, a cup of tea, moments of solitude or an engaging conversation with your loved one. Hurly (4 minutes)
Should We Work Together?
Hi! I’m Kyle. This newsletter is my passion project. When I’m not writing, I run a law firm that helps startups move fast without breaking things. Most founders want a trusted legal partner, but they hate surprise legal bills. At Westaway, we take care of your startup’s legal needs for a flat, monthly fee so you can control your costs and focus on scaling your business. If you’re interested, let’s jump on a call to see if you’re a good fit for the firm. Click here to schedule a 1-on-1 call with me.
Just win, baby. – Al Davis